Saab has not had an easy path to salvation. The Koenigsegg Group has had to provide finances, agree to a price and conditions with GM, get loan from European Investment Bank (EIB),and coax the Swedish Government into guaranteeing loans. Now there’s one more hurdle left, and it’s the same challenge that scuppered the Opel to Magna deal: The EU.
Reports of recent weeks in the Scandinavian media have told us that the EU is thinking the Saab deal over. And when mighty EU thinks, things take time… So, what are they thinking about? They have to decide whether Swedish Govt’s guarantees to SAAB’s loan in the European Investment Bank should be considered subsidies or not. EU countries are not allowed to subsidize unprofitable companies – and the EU has some questions on SAAB’s and Koenigsegg Groups financial plan, and Saab’s results prior to the reconstruction. So the whole thing might stretch into next year until – or if at all – the deal is closed. Incidentally, questions about the anti-competitive nature of the German government’s support of the Opel to Magna deal killed that sale already. But does GM want Saab back as badly?
Now, this wasn’t really unexpected (except perhaps for Christian von Koenigsegg, who wanted the deal finished in time to present it at the IAA in Frankfurt in September) because it’s part of the process of doing business in Europe. But Saab is being squeezed from other sides too. Swedish Radio is reporting today that Saab has to return 11 million Euros to the Government, money that guaranteed salaries for the employees at Saab in connection with Saab’s restructuring application in February. And at the same time, a spokesman from GM, in connection with their letter to the US Saab-dealers last week makes it clear that if the Koenigsegg-Saab deal goes wrong (as Opel has) Saab is history, gone, dead (as in Pontiac, Saturn or Oldsmobile dead).